Nick Carter #6: “Saigon” by Michael Avallone/Valerie Moolman. Madame Claire La Forge, the widow of French intelligence agent La Petite Fleur, still cares for their plantation in North Vietnam, with her trusted bodyguard, Saito, a Japanese servant. When a French agent stumbles into her plantation, dying, he claims to have a hidden message for Intelligence, and she sends Saito to Saigon to contact the French Intelligence Service. Hawk is also notified, and with Nick Carter already in Vietnam disguised as a doctor with the World Health Organization, he is alerted to respond to the case. This was a topnotch Killmaster story. It appears there is some question about the authorship, however. Michael Avallone submitted “Saigon”, as the third story in the new series, but it was delayed until the sixth issue, with Valerie Moolman taking over the writing of the series from Avallone. “Run Spy, Run” was the first book in the series, and a good entry by Avallone, but his second story, “China Doll” was awful. I’m guessing that he was fired after “China Doll”, and “Saigon” was turned over to Valerie Moolman for rewrite. “Saigon” seems all hers, though she may have used Avallone’s original concept, but heavily rewrote the manuscript. Very little, if anything, seems to remain of Avallone’s writing in this one.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Mark Hood #13: “The Invisibles” by James Dark (James E. M MacDonnell). Mark Hood is sent to a small Caribbean island where he encounters voodoo and murder. Intertrust believes someone on the island may be building a nuclear bomb. What he finds is Shango, the power behind the island voodoo, and possessor of a heat-exchanger unit powered by nuclear fission. This machine can create hurricanes, and Shango wants to blackmail the world with his power. This is a nice entry, with some good karate to take care of the bad guys. A fun read over all.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Kill Me In Roppongi & Kill Me In Atami
Burns Bannion #9: “Kill Me In Roppongi” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). In this final novel of the “Kill Me In …” series, Hedges sends ex-Stars & Stripes newspaperman, Addis Racquets to him for help. Racquets now runs his own small paper, and has received a death threat along with an ad. He hires Bannion to answer the ad, and find out what’s going on. Although Inspector Izawa and Hedges are mentioned, they have no active part in this story. It involves the IOON (International Order of Nationalists) Nazi organization. They are running an illegal abortion scheme in Japan, bringing women from all over the world that need an abortion, then blackmailing them to work as their sex spies. Unfortunately, this was the final Burns Bannion novel. Not a great series, but definitely a fun one with sex and karate as the main theme. The series was published by Berkley in the U.S., but distribution in the Far East must have been poor, so Norman Thompson, who had contacts with the military and Stars & Stripes, had the series printed by a Japanese publisher under his ERLE BOOKS Logo. This enabled him to get his books on the racks in the PX system of military bases, where millions of G.I.s became familiar with them. I don’t know if Berkley was aware of this double-dealing or not. Sadly, the ERLE Editions seem to have been printed without editing or proofing, so there are many typos in them. If readers have a choice, buy the American editions published by Berkley instead. Actually, I’m not sure if Berkley even published the last two stories or not. This one is only 49k, kind of short for a paperback. I have a pdf of this one for trade.
Burns Bannion #6: “Kill Me In Atami” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). This one could have been a Bud & Lou comedy film. Bannion is hired by a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hikonami. She wants a renter removed from her estate. Legal action would take years, but she wants Bannion to see that he leaves early, even if it means a karate chop to back of the neck. But there’s more to the case, as he soon finds out. The widow’s husband was murdered by a karate blow to the back of the head, forcing the head into a sharp instrument, but everybody says it was a suicide. En route to the estate, Bannion picks up a ‘wooley booger’ girl (read the book to find out) who loves sex, but someone hangs him and pins a suicide note on his chest. Arriving at the mansion, he finds the widow’s sister, Fujiwara, and Mrs. Hikonami’s daughter, Asako. The three women are exact images of each other. Over the next three nights, the power goes off, and one of them enters his room to seduce him, but he never knows which one. Except that it isn’t the 300-pound maid, who also knows karate. There are hidden passages behind a bookcase, tunnels beneath the mansion, and monsters lurking about the tunnels and an abandoned sanitarium nearby. More supposed suicides happen, men hanging in the tunnel, and Bannion’s wooley booger girl inside the sanitarium. This is one of my favorites in the series. Thought Hedges is mentioned, he isn’t in this story. Inspector Ezawa introduces Bannion to Mrs. Hikonami, and then we don’t see him any more. Oddly, this is the only Burns Bannion novel not reprinted in the ERLE Edition in Japan. It’s only available in the American Berkley 1962 printing. I might add at this point that the Berkley editions were well edited, while the Japanese ERLE editions were not. This Berkley edition paperback is for trade.